Katz’s Delicatessen: Awesome Sandwiches, Well Worth It!

Katz's Delicatessen Facade

I have the vaguest recollection of eating at Katz’s Delicatessen as a kid.  The place has been open, in the spot, since 1888 and is frequently visited by famous people.  The walls inside are covered by pictures of notable diners, like Johnny Depp for instance.  Today my wife and I decided to go down there and give it a try.

Katz's Delicatessen Facade

Despite the hype, we were not prepared for the line we saw when we passed the end of the last block.  Both facades of the restaurant were covered by the lines of people.  The line going down Houston (on the right in the picture) was for take-out; the line going down Ludlow was for dine-in.  Like my wife said, “Thank God for smart-phones.”

Katz's Delicatessen Interior

The wait wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be, but the line outside wasn’t a line for a table.  It was a line for another line.  Well, really it was for the set of lines where you line up to get your sandwich.  Also for the line where you line up to get a drink.  On one hand, the madness and the business of the set-up adds to the excitement of eating there.  On the other, it was very time consuming.  I suppose there isn’t a faster way to do it though.  Table service would likely take even longer.  My only real gripe was that there was just one guy at the soda/fries (and other extras) counter, which made that a really, really long wait to just get two cans of soda.

Katz's Delicatessen Pastrami Sandwiches

Complaints aside, the wait was worth it.  The food is awesome and you get a huge portion.  One sandwich is enough for two people, unless you’re starving to death.  I have half of the sandwich I ordered sitting on my table next to me, still waiting to be eaten.  I had to go ask for a sheet of wax paper so I could wrap it up to bring it home.  The prices aren’t that bad for what we got.  The sandwiches pictured above are pastrami on rye.  I think they were about 15.75 apiece.

Katz's Delicatessen Pastrami Sandwich

If you’re visiting New York City (or if you live here and just haven’t gone yet) and you’re doing the food tourism thing, pizza isn’t the only must-have while you’re here.  Definitely do stop by Katz’s.  It’s worth the time and money.  Oh, and one last thing: Dr. Brown’s root beer kicks ass!

Back to Boka: Delicious Fried Chicken

A half-half plate of spicy and teriyaki wings at Boka: Bon Chon, NYC.

Last May I went to a restaurant called Boka: Bon Chon on St Mark’s place in Manhattan.  I wanted to take my mom out for something nice for Mother’s Day and she’d never had Korean food so it seemed like a good choice.  We were both very satisfied with the food we ate, and after hearing back from some people that the fried chicken there is really awesome, we decided we’d go back to try it out at some point.

We finally did manage to get back there and try the fried chicken at the end of last month and it is amazing!  We only ordered a small plate because we weren’t sure if we’d like it or not.  Now I wish we’d just gotten a big plate of the fried chicken and nothing else.  Just looking at the picture is making my mouth water.  The skin of the chicken was crispy and tasty and the meat wasn’t oily.  I could sit down and eat a bucket of the stuff.  Well, maybe not the spicy fried chicken.  The spicy fried chicken has a real kick to it.  I can’t figure out which I like more.  I think I actually prefer the spicy kind, but I probably couldn’t eat as much of it as the other.

Fried dumplings from Boka: Bon Chon, NYC.

We also got a plate of fried dumplings.  They were crispy and looked nice, but the inside was a bit mushy.  Maybe that’s the way they’re supposed to be.  I don’t know, but my mom didn’t care for them too much.

A 'box lunch' from Boka: Bon Chon, NYC.

We also ordered this.  I don’t recall the name of it now, but it’s a spicy chicken ‘box lunch’.  I was surprised when they brought it out, because the tray looks just like trays used at Korean restaurants in Singapore.  I’m not sure if it’s still there, but I specifically remember there was a Korean restaurant that used these trays in the basement level of the Cineliesure (?) Mall in the Orchard Road area.

We figured that between the chicken, the dumplings and the ‘box lunch’, we’d have more than enough to eat for two people, and we did wind up bringing some of the chicken and dumplings home as leftovers (which disappeared quickly that same night).  It was pretty filling, especially since we were eating it all with white rice.

In the future, when I go to Boka: Bon Chon, the fried chicken will always be one of my choices.  Maybe the best option would be to get a large order of the fried chicken and another dish (like a bowl of bibimbap) and then ask for smaller plates and share the meal.

A Taste of India at Newport Centre

Taste of India, Authentic Indian Cuisine at Newport Centre Mall.

I went up to the food court at the Newport Centre Mall for the first time last weekend.  I saw some old favorites that I hadn’t been to since before I left the US for Kuwait in 2007 and I was pretty sure I was going to wind up eating at Sarku Japan.  It’s not real Japanese food, but it tastes pretty good.  Then I saw a place called A Taste of India: Authentic Indian Cuisine.  I went over and they were handing out free samples of chicken.  It tasted pretty good, but I wasn’t really convinced.  Then I saw that they had chicken biryani, and I wondered if it was anything like the nasi briyani I’d had in Singapore.  I asked for a sample and while it wasn’t exactly the same, it was really close and really good.  It was really spicy too!

Chicken biryani from A Taste of India at Newport Centre Mall.

I wound up getting a bowl of it, with spicy curry on top.  It doesn’t look too appealing in this photo, but most of the foods I ate in Asia tasted better than they looked anyway.

Something about the restaurant was kind of jarring.  They all seemed to be first generation immigrants, judging by their accents, possibly from the same family.  The way they were working the crowd and cajoling people into taking samples and then buying food from them reminded me of street vendors in the Asian countries I’d visited.  They could have just as easily been on a street in Kuala Lumpur or a food court in Singapore.  The weird part is that they were all wearing cheesy looking, brightly colored, standard uniforms.  I guess it was something about the authentic taste of the food and the authentic behavior of the employees clashing with the American franchise store and uniform designs that threw me off.  I suppose it doesn’t matter though.  I paid for good food and that’s what I got.

Boka: Bon Chon on St. Mark’s

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day.  It’s been years since I’ve lived near my mom on Mother’s Day, so I wanted to take her somewhere to get a nice lunch.  My mom has lived in the city for years, so I wasn’t sure what would be appropriate (some place she hasn’t eaten at quite a bit already), but I settled on a place called Boka: Bon Chon.  It turned out to be a good thing too.  Boka is a Korean food place and my mom had never had Korean food before, so besides lunch she got the gift of a new experience for Mother’s Day this year.

Boka: Bon Chon on St. Mark's

As for the restaurant itself, I was a little skeptical at first, because when you first walk up to it, it looks more like a bar than a place you’d go for a good meal.  From the outside, it’s pretty unassuming.  You would hardly know it’s there.  There’s no large sign or store front to speak of.  It occupies just the bottom level of the building seen above.  There’s a karaoke bar above it, a Japanese noodle place to the right and another restaurant that I didn’t really pay much attention to on the left.

Interior of Boka: Bon Chon on St. Mark's

The interior was a surprise.  It’s really nice and really clean and the décor was classy, if not something I’d think of when I think ‘Korean’.  The place gives more of an English pub impression, to me at least.

We got there at around 2 PM, between lunch and dinner, so the place was empty.  By the time we left, it was starting to fill up.  It looked like the crowd was mostly younger people, which makes sense since NYU has dorms in the area.

Pork bibimbap from Boka: Bon Chon on St. Mark's

I chose the pork bibimbap.

Beef bulgogi from Boka: Bon Chon on St. Mark's

I helped my mom pick something from the menu, since she wasn’t familiar with the food choices.  She got beef bulgogi, which is pretty tame and a good first taste of Korean.  I think that’s what I had, the first time I ate at a Korean place.

The lady that served us seemed to be the only server working at the time, but it wasn’t busy.  She seemed a little unsure of herself and I got the impression that English was still a bit of a struggle for her, but she was very friendly.  Our food and drinks came to the table quickly, though she seemed a bit surprised that we just wanted water and Coke, rather than soju, sake, or beer.

Overall, the place is pretty cool.  The atmosphere is comfortable, the food is good, the prices are reasonable and the service was good.  I’m looking forward to visiting again.  I think next time I’ll try the Korean style fried chicken.  I saw a tip on Foursquare, after we’d ordered of course, that the Korean style fried chicken there kicks ass.

The Dancing Jollibee Mascot

Jollibee is a fast food chain in the Philippines that’s reminiscent of McDonald’s.  It’s a burger joint, but it also serves a lot of traditional Filipino foods.  I’ll go more into that later.  What I wanted to show in this blog post is the mascot dancing.  I don’t remember ever seeing something like this in another country, but apparently Jollibee (the mascot) likes to dance at birthday parties and do ‘dance-offs’ with other mascots.  I don’t mean cheesy dancing either.  Here are two examples:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v/d7elkmsPaJs

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v/zI2RGhf6QeY

I used to wonder why people seemed so excited to have their kids’ birthday parties at a Jollibee, but I guess this explains it.  I bet your average Ronald McDonald can’t pull off those moves!

There are also a few Jollibee franchises in the US in California and I think New York, due to there being a lot of Filipinos in those areas.  I don’t know if the Jollibee mascots there dance like this though.  This might be a uniquely Filipino thing.